French minister warns of danger in lagging peace process

Other News Materials 18 February 2008 02:13 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Sunday that since the Annapolis conference in the United States and the Paris donors' conference late last year, there had not been real progress in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, the French minister warned that the lack of progress was "dangerous" and economic improvement on the Palestinian side was needed to give them hope, a statement from the president's office said.

Later, however, after meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Kouchner noted there had been progress in the peace process, despite his earlier statement, local media reported.

The visiting minister had met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Saturday.

The Paris conference gathered pledges worth some 7.7 billion dollars for the Palestinians.

Echoing Kouchner's remarks, the Israeli leader stressed the need for economic cooperation between his state, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to bring about a "real change on the ground."

People were "loosing faith in peace," he said.

Peres called for accelerating the building of industrial zones, supported by Japan, Germany and Turkey, to improve the Palestinians' quality of life.